FIA attempts to crack down on F1 suspension tricks for 2018

The FIA is attempting to clamp down on Formula 1 teams using steering angle to gain an aerodynamic advantage via the use of clever front suspension systems

FIA attempts to crack down on F1 suspension tricks for 2018

A technical directive sent by the FIA's Charlie Whiting last week made it clear the governing body believes that in 2017 some teams designed their suspension and steering systems to lower the front ride height in cornering, potentially providing an aerodynamic benefit and increasing grip.

Whiting acknowledges that a ride height change under steering lock is normal, but he says that from now on it cannot exceed 5mm - and it's up to the teams to provide proof that the systems of their 2018 cars will comply.

The matter was discussed in detail with team technical directors at the most recent FIA technical regulations meeting in London on November 21, where there were conflicting views on how much influence suspension should be allowed to have on aerodynamics.

Sources indicate that Red Bull wanted to retain the freedom to develop suspension under the current regulations, while Ferrari was supportive of tighter restrictions. Mercedes is understood to have suggested that active suspension should be allowed, with FIA prescribed software and hardware.

It was three weeks after that meeting that the technical directive was sent to the teams, all of whom are already far advanced with their 2018 designs.

Whiting wrote: "It became clear during the season that some teams were designing the suspension and steering systems in an attempt to change the front ride height of the car.

"Whilst some change is inevitable when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock, we suspect that the effect of some systems was a far from incidental change of ride height.

"We also believe that any non-incidental change of ride height is very likely to affect the aerodynamic performance of the car."

Whiting referenced a 24-year-old FIA International Court of Appeal ruling on suspension as a precedent for the interpretation of the key F1 technical regulation that concerns aerodynamic influence.

One section of the regulations reads "any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited", and that may be the wording the FIA is using to help to justify its stance.

In the latest technical directive Whiting concluded: "It is our view that such steering systems should be treated in the same way as suspension systems, i.e. that the 1993 ICA ruling should apply when assessing compliance with Article 3.8 of the Technical Regulations.

"Hence, any change of front ride height when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock should be wholly incidental.

"We will therefore be asking you to provide us with all relevant documentation showing what effect steering has on the front ride height of your car and, in order to satisfy us that any effect is incidental, we believe that ride height should change by no more than 5.0mm when the steering wheel is moved from lock-to-lock."

In effect teams now have to decide whether they can afford to take a risk and carry on with their intended 2018 designs, or build their cars to the new interpretation.

One team insider Autosport: "I suspect it can't be policed anyway, and teams will just ignore it.

"It is just the FIA's 'view,' it's not actually the 'law'. Nothing will change."

shares
comments
Esteban Ocon asked Mercedes boss Wolff for advice on Perez F1 row

Previous article

Esteban Ocon asked Mercedes boss Wolff for advice on Perez F1 row

Next article

Aftermath of Hamilton Baku clash Vettel's 'worst feeling' of 2017

Aftermath of Hamilton Baku clash Vettel's 'worst feeling' of 2017
Load comments
Hungarian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Hungarian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

This was race that showcased the best and worst of Formula 1, producing a first time winner and a memorable comeback to a podium finish. Avoiding trouble at the start and astute strategy calls were key to success, but where some drivers took full advantage, others made key errors that cost them dearly

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2021
The “heart-breaking” call that led to Ocon’s Hungarian GP triumph Plus

The “heart-breaking” call that led to Ocon’s Hungarian GP triumph

Set to restart the red-flagged Hungarian Grand Prix in second, Esteban Ocon had some doubts when he peeled into the pits to swap his intermediate tyres for slicks. But this "heart-breaking" call was vindicated in spectacular fashion as the Alpine driver staved off race-long pressure from Sebastian Vettel for a memorable maiden Formula 1 victory

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Plus

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021
Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Plus

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Plus

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Plus

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break Plus

The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break

OPINION: Formula 1 is about to break up for summer 2021, with the title battles finely poised. But it’s not just the latest round of Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton that will be worth watching this weekend in Hungary, as plenty of drivers are eying big results to change the stories of their seasons so far

Formula 1
Jul 28, 2021
How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Plus

How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but 
flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021